Rookie J.P. France logged his eighth quality start over his last nine appearances while Kyle Tucker and Martin Maldonado slugged solo home runs to pace the Houston Astros to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Texas Rangers on Tuesday
France (6-3) matched his career high by logging seven innings, doing so for the second time in as many starts and the fourth time this season. He induced three inning-ending double play grounders and did not allow a runner into scoring position until Texas left fielder Travis Janikowski followed a single by Marcus Semien with a bloop hit with one out in the sixth inning.
Semien subsequently scored on a two-out fielding error by Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena, a miscue that allowed the Rangers to close to within 2-1. But France rallied with a called third strike on Josh Jung to limit the damage in the sixth, and then he capped his outing by getting Mitch Garver to roll into a double play that closed the seventh
France allowed one unearned run on five hits and two walks while recording three strikeouts. It marked the ninth time in 10 starts that France has logged at least six innings.
The Astros, who closed to within one game of Texas atop the American League West, spotted France the lead with their two-run second against Rangers right-hander Yerry Rodriguez (0-1), who served as the opener in his first career start
The first three batters reached safely for Houston in the bottom of the second, with Chas McCormick following a leadoff walk from Alex Bregman and a single by Jose Abreu with a run-scoring double. Two batters later, Corey Julks settled for a sacrifice fly that plated Abreu when Janikowski made a sensational running catch against the manual scoreboard in left field.
Houston extended its lead in the sixth when Tucker smacked his 18th homer leading off the frame against Texas left-hander Cody Bradford. Maldonado added his eighth homer with one out in the seventh.
Pena redeemed himself with a dazzling relay throw in the top of the eighth that erased Semien at the plate as he tried to score from first on a double to left by Janikowski off Hector Neris. Semien was initially ruled safe, but the Astros challenged and won the reversal
Garver belted a two-run homer off Astros closer Ryan Pressly in the ninth, but Pressly recorded his 24th save thanks to a leaping catch from Tucker at the wall in right
--Field Level Media